Lucknow, April 01: Dalit groups have called for Bharat Bandh on April 2, Monday, after the Supreme Court’s order to dilute the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act. While the government is likely to move a review petition in the Supreme Court today, the atmosphere remains tense across India, especially in Punjab, Bihar and some parts of Uttar Pradesh.
The Punjab government has suspended Internet services in the state today and the 10th and 12th CBSE Board exams have also been cancelled for the day. Business establishments and educational institutions have been shut. Internet services, which had been suspended at 5 pm on Sunday will continue to remain so till 11 pm today. Public transport services have also been temporarily suspended. Members of Punjab Congress will hand over a memorandum to the Governor against the Supreme Court ruling later in the day.
Since Punjab has a huge number of Dalits, it is treating the issue with utmost urgency and sensitivity with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealing the Army to remain on stand-by.
The situation in Bihar looks no different. Protesters stopped train at Forbesganj junction while different groups including the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPIML) activists protested in Arrah district. The stopping of trains was also witnessed in Odisha’s Sambhalpur where protesters demonstrated against the Supreme Court’s decision on SC/ST Protection Act.
Mumbai on the other hand remained peaceful with no restriction on public transport. But a rally would be taken out by nearly 800 Left-wing supporters from Dadar’s Kotwal Udyan till Chaityabhoomi in the evening today. Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh remained on high alert to respond to any sort of chaos regarding the Bharat Bandh call.
Protesters in Madhya Pradesh and Bhind turned violent and pelted stones. Agra too witnessed violent protests as protesters indulged in stone pelting in major markets. The Agra-Aligarh Highway too remained jammed.
Meanwhile, Dalit groups in UP’s capital city Lucknow took out a silent protest by carrying black flags to register their solidarity in the movement. Delhi is likely to witness traffic snarls as various Dalit organisations will be marching to protest against the SC’s order. While, protests in Meerut turned violent with cars being damaged.
Rajasthan’s Bharatpur too witnessed agitation by Dalits in support of the movement. Teachers in the state had sought a day’s leave to join nationwide bandh against apex court order on SC/ST Act.
The bandh is being supported by various groups such as the the Jati Aant Sangharsh Samiti, Peasants and Workers Party, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, the Rashtriya Seva Dal, and National Dalit Movement for Justice, among many others.